Ask Single Dating Diva: Can You Define Cheating?

Can You Define Cheating_

In my post “Secrets Revealed: Why People Cheat” I spoke about cheating being a signal that there is a problem in the relationship and that there is a lack of fulfillment from their partner.  Don’t get me wrong, there are those who cheat for the sport of it and because they have the inability to be monogamous, but, they aren’t the majority.  I get several questions about cheating from people being cheated on, and from people who are participating in the act.  This is one question, I thought would be good to share, because, although the line may be clear for some, most don’t know it until they’ve crossed it.

Can You Define Cheating?

Dear Single Dating Diva,

infidelity cheatingI wanted to ask you a question.  Can you define cheating?  What is cheating exactly?  I’ve been seeing this girl who is in a long distance relationship with someone.  He spends a lot to travel to visit her once a month and lavishes her with attention and gifts, but while he’s away we spend time together, partake in some sexting (pictures included) and have fooled around, but no actual sex.  I have to admit I have spent money on her too.  This has been going on for a while, we don’t want to be in a relationship but enjoy each other’s company.  Is that cheating?  Am I the bad guy here?


Starting to Give a Damn

Dear Starting to Give a Damn,

Thank you for your question.  It really is an important one.  Not sure what exactly you’re looking for, it seems to me you want to clear your conscience.  You asked me to define what cheating is and if you were the bad guy in this situation.  Let’s start with the definition of cheating.  Cheating is as an act of deception, essentially you are doing something you wouldn’t do in front of your partner and you wouldn’t want them to find out about it.  This could be physical, mental or emotional cheating.  Let’s discuss what each of these mean.

Physical Cheating

This one is pretty clear.  When Physical Cheating, you are having a physical sexual relationship with someone other your partner, without your partner’s consent.  This includes touching, kissing, feeling … anything to do with the genitalia, anything that turns you on and especially gives you an orgasm.  Even if you’re not having actual intercourse, it’s still considered physical cheating.

Emotional Cheating

Internet has made Emotional Cheating much more prevalent.  Why?  Well, you can have a full blown relationship with someone without even meeting them in person.  You can fall in love with someone without having any physical contact.  Perhaps you’re missing something from your relationship and seek it elsewhere.  It could also be someone you work with, a good friend or even the barrista at the coffee shop.  Either way, you are sharing a part of you that should be reserved for your partner, even if you don’t take it to the next level.  Most people having Emotional Affairs don’t know (or don’t admit) that they are being unfaithful.  You can read more about what this means in this article “What is an Emotional Affair“.

Mental Cheating

Ask-Single-Dating-DivaMental Cheating is thinking, lusting after and daydreaming about someone other than your partner.  Some would argue that’s not really cheating because you aren’t doing anything about it, but it’s still cheating.  This one, obviously, isn’t as bad as the others, but all actions start with a thought, an idea, and that idea might just come into fruition one day with the right motivation in the right circumstances.

You asked if you are the bad guy here.  You are not the one doing the cheating, but you’re definitely participating in the act.  Basically, you’re an accomplice.  Just think how you would feel if you were the boyfriend in this situation.  There are so many other women out there, why do you want someone else’s woman who clearly is having her fun playing two men? Have you crossed the line?  Yes, you have and you need to go back.  You obviously are feeling guilty about what you’re doing so you know it’s wrong.   If you want my advice I would end your liaison with her and find someone who isn’t attached to someone else.

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva

READERS: Do you agree? What would you tell someone who asked you to define cheating? Please comment below … and read the other great comments that are already there!!

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  1. As for “mental Cheating” I heard someone once say, “It does not matter where you cook, as long as you come home to eat.”


  2. Definitely a controversial topic but it is good that you highlighted that there are three types of cheating and while they are different it is all the same – cheating. You always have to keep in mind when you are doing something, would you do it in front of your significant other or talk about it afterwards. When you start hiding things that is when you are going down the wrong road.


  3. I love this. THANK YOU!! I have enjoyed the conversational company of many beautiful, intelligent woman and you can give a lot and get a lot back from a relationship without spoiling the connection you have with your partner or her with her partner (if she has one at the time). It is not that difficult if you have self respect and love yourself first.

    It all has to do with love, both of yourself and your current and future potential partners.

    You can’t give what you don’t have to give…
    and you don’t have it to give if you’ve given it to your partner…
    and if you do make that choice with someone else…
    then your partner doesn’t really have it anymore anyway…

    and if you respect yourself then you would not only not choose to deceive your partner, but you would refuse deceive YOURSELF by admitting to yourself the choice you choose and you would acknowledge that choice to yourself AND your partner in a mutually respectful way BEFORE you create the deceit.

    It is not that complicated, if we have self respect and love and respect and love for our partners.

    When we don’t respect and love ourselves then we often find it more difficult to make respectful and loving choices towards our partners too, then make excuses afterwards, not just to our partners, but to ourselves, sort of like a young child caught doing something they know is wrong but chose to do anyway. The difference is a young child does not have the self control or self love of an adult (which is why they have parents or legal guardians).

    …if you are behaving with all parties consent for mutual pleasure and out of love, then that’s ok…that is making a choice and handling it like and adult without deceit. If your partner(s) does(do) not like your choices, they can also make a choice not to be in a relationship with you. However, if you do not give your partner(s) information on which to make a truthful choice, then you are being deceitful and controlling by manipulating information they need to receive for them to have the FREEDOM to make that choice.

    If you would not want someone to treat you that way, don’t treat others that way. But this only works if you are able to be honest with yourself (and then others) about how you really want to be treated.

    If you REALLY want to be in relationships where your parters do unto you as you say or think you want to do unto them – whether in the moment or over a long period of time – it doesn’t matter – then choose that, but it goes both ways, and you still need to give your partners the ability to make a CHOICE based on the truth.

    So tell them “I’m thrilled to be in a relationship with you, but I’m not going to stop myself if I find someone else I would like to also be in a relationship with and I won’t tell you before I make that choice. Does that work for you?” They might be just as thrilled with that as you, or they might say “No, but thank you for telling me” and opt out. At least you respected yourself enough to be honest with yourself about what you choose AND therefore you had the ability to also be honest with your partner so they could have the information to truthfully exercise their freedom to make a choice of their own.

    That, to me, is love. Love Yourself First, then you can truly love others.


      • I’m so glad you had the patience to read that rant…OMG – true but how to say it SHORTER!! LOL…Your post really helped solidify something for me I’ve been wrestling with for a long time – thank you!!!!


  4. I never thought I would say this…but I agree with Lawrence! LOL! I agree with your definition of cheating and that there are emotional and physical affairs but don’t believe that merely thinking about another person qualifies as cheating.Fantasizing: Yes. Cheating: No. Although I may not want to share with my partner my fantasy daydreams about the water delivery guy or want to hear about his mental rendezvous with the hottie at the gym; it’s human nature and harmless. If simple fantasy daydreams motivate you interact more frequently with your fantasy person and attempt to take it to another level than that’s a weakness and someone who can’t separate reality from fiction. But until it’s taken to the next level, just thinking about another person it not cheating. To expect your partner to never daydream about another person is an unrealistic expectation. And then to accuse them of cheating for just having thoughts is totally unfair. Great Post, Diva!


    • Thanks DIP!! Nothing at all wrong with fantasy and thinking about others in the short term, it is wrong when it takes over and you need that fantasy in order to be aroused and your partner doesn’t enter your mind at all … also, as I mentioned, those thoughts could lead to more in the right environment.


      • All you keep doing is taking things and making them something different. You keep saying, the thoughts may lead to something else. Leave it alone. A thought is a thought an action is an action. Now this is where you say, “Unless the thought leads to an action”. Stop putting your spin on peoples comments.


  5. My simple thing about cheating is to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. If they were doing the same thing to you, would you consider it cheating? I explicitly agree with your comment on how the internet has made cheating far more prevalent. It’s a shame, really. But I agree that cheating is cheating even if it’s not physical….except of course if you’re thinking of celebrities…then that doesn’t count. There are many times I fantasized that my gf was Paula Patton 😛


    • Thanks for your comment Jimmy! We all fantasize, nothing wrong with that … but what if you NEEDED that fantasy to get off or your fantasy has replaced your current partner? Then it can be a problem … so maybe better to proceed with caution 😉


  6. Personally, I think that Emotional Cheating is significantly more dangerous than the Physical kind. It’s much easier to get physical fulfillment (internet porn, spank magazines, etc) than it is to get emotional fulfillment, and the emotional connection is the stuff that makes a relationship stick in the long run. But that’s just my opinion…lol


        • I would rather have my partner tell me they had feelings for someone else then tell me they had relations with someone else. One is a feeling that you can discuss and find out whats missing to give them what they need. The other is physical, theres no excuse or coming back from that. For a guy, your partner has been penetrated by someone else, thats the lowest of the low.


    • Thanks for your comment Justin 🙂 You’re so right, emotional cheating is very dangerous because it involves having feelings for someone other than your partner. The act can be separated from emotion but emotion will lead to the act.


  7. Cheating is something I discuss often at my blog and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s too subjective to define definitively. It is different for every person and every couple. Cheating is going outside of the boundaries set by you and your partner. For some that’s physical, others it starts at emotional connections. For some it may be a kiss while others it’s full out cheating. Heck, maybe you are a swinger and even sex is ok so long as your partner knows about it. It’s different for all.

    I agree with The Hook…if you can’t tell your partner about it, are hiding and sneaking, then it’s probably cheating.


  8. Interesting topic. I find it intriguing that everyone wants to create parenthesis around this notion of cheating. I hear the phrase used ‘not as bad’ or that physical is the only form of cheating as if there is a hierarchy to lying. It isn’t cheating unless … it’s happening TO us.

    I think you’re right he was looking for an answer to clear his conscience. The question however is far easier to answer than what we want to believe.

    I look at it like this, would our spouse/gf/bf/partner be comfortable if they were aware what we were thinking or doing? Would they feel honored, cherished, loved, and appreciated to know that the person they love is lusting (to use the Old Testament term) over someone else, constantly thinking about them, etc?

    Whether there is the opportunity (i.e. celebrities etc or the guy down the street) is in the end irrelevant. Cheating, is cheating, is cheating and whether it ends in a physical act or never leaves the confines of our own skulls, the point is that we are pouring our longing and desires into someone other than our chosen partner…

    And yes I understand that definition would immediately condemn every single person on the planet to adultery (including myself). But as the old saying goes…it is what it is.

    Great topic! I will be expanding on my comment and liking back to you and Marrie. Feel free to weigh in.


    • Thanks for your comment Kyle 🙂 Fantasy can lead to reality if it gets out of hand so that’s why mental cheating is part of the list. There’s a line that can easily be crossed given the right circumstances/opportunity.


  9. I think mental and emotional cheating are just as bad if not worse than physical cheating. I experienced them all with a previous partner. He was the one doing the cheating and the emotional was the worst. Finding out he had these feelings for someone else even though he never acted on them. Made me wonder what he was thinking about while he was with me.


    • Thanks for your comment LJ Maggie!! Sorry for your experience. It is very difficult to know that someone we loved and felt an emotional connection with felt that for someone else. It really is worse than the physical cheating, although any cheating is a betrayal.


    • Ditto here. Agree with exactly what SingleDatingDiva replied…been there…that hurts soooo bad!!!!!!! 😊😊😊


  10. In my opinion, when you lust after someone different from your partner, and daydream about sex with them, it’s cheating. If I knew my husband was thinking about having sex with someone else it would hurt me very deeply because i want to be the object of his sexual attentions. He is the only one I think about because I am in love, and I expect the same from him. If i am not the only one he thinks about, it means he is not in love with me, and his feelings from me should be called with another name. When there is room for another person in your mind, it means your feelings for your partner are not so intense and if temptation is there, the danger of physical cheating is also there. Let me know what you think..thanks!


  11. First of all you cant compare the 3, each is different in their own definition. To compare them shows ignorance. I personally would NOT care if someone menatlly cheated on me. Mental involves the brain, everyone mental cheats according to this uneducated site and person. Picture this if you will… A person of the opposite sex is walking down the street or is shopping at the same place you are and you see them and you “think” to yourself if I could only get a chance with that, or a more popular term, I’d love to hit that. Even a simple now thats sexy could be considered mentally cheating? Thats the stupidest thing I ever heard. If you are going to base a cheat off a “what if” why stop there? Point is, the notion can be there but its all a thought nothing more. Every man would be held as a cheater, theres isnt a man out there that doesnt “mental cheat”, every man sees an attractive person and it doesnt matter if they r in a relationship or, not they say to themselves “if I was single… if I was just a bit younger…” its ok to be attracted to someone. Next we are going to be putting people on trial because they say “Im gonna kill someone today”, so does that mean they are and should be brought to trial, some probably should because theu probably will, the others though just think that or just say it out of anger.Just because you visually do something, picture another person naked or even imagine what it would be like to be with another person if you are not acting you ARE NOT cheating, thinking things doesnt mean you are going to act on them, if you do then you are cheating. Its not just men that have thoughts, women have them too, women even fart but if you ask they will say no thats disgusting. Im not saying theres not a fine line, but theres a fine line between everything we do, everyday. The problem is most women will make a huge deal about it saying the person cheated on them mentally. Well then turn off the TV, ban magazines, everywhere you look theres sex its what sells. Does a person who watches porn considered a cheater? What about a love scene in just a regular movie with a very attractive actor/ess? Get real people, you have flirting also but once again if you do not act you are NOT cheating. And if you want to say you were mentally cheated on and then want to physically cheat on that person then you are the bad person not them and you are using that as an excuse to actually cheat on someone which is horrible and you should if you cant handle someone else having thoughts just remove yourself from any relationship and go live somewhere under a rock. Lets be real people.


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